Three years ago, I posted a video on YouTube titled 'Dear Future Me' . It got around 500 views, but is now unlisted due to it being a total cringe-fest. However, now it's almost exactly three years on, I thought I'd write a letter in reply.
Dear Younger Self,
We're eighteen now, nineteen next month! And yes, we still feel a year or two older than we actually are. It's sometimes difficult, like recently when you feel like you've grown out of friendships. But it also comes with the blessing of hanging out with incredible people who are actually 5-10 years older than you, but you feel like you fit.
You ask whether we "survived high school". Oh Rebecca, we thrived high school. I'll give you some tips for your last year or so...
1. Do your homework, and preferably without the aid of Google.
2. Stop asking, "what's the point though?" in every maths lesson
3. Enjoy the little things. I miss so many things about school and it genuinely makes me sad to think that I'll never sit in an English lesson ever again, or I'lll never play Ultimate Frisbee on the field in the rain again, and I'll never go on another Geography field trip where we sit on a cliff top eating lunch in Sunny Devon, or trudge through a river, clipboard and snack in hand.
4. Keep going and believe in yourself! You've come so far and you're only going to go further!
No, we didn't go to College in the end; only dead fish go with the flow. We did A Levels from home and, spoiler alert, it's tough. Put your music on, find a way to study best, and don't give up. Do some more practice essays and get them marked... use your tutors!
We made it to Uni! We're on an actual university course! Not Belfast, we had a bit of a crisis earlier on in the year about what to. Instead we're Student Youth Worker and studying at Nottingham CYM. That leads me nicely onto dreams...
Over time your dreams will change, and that's okay. Don't stress yourself over not knowing what to do; there's always time to figure it out. Just because you verbalise that you want to do one thing, doesn't mean you have a legal contract to do that. But just be aware that your plan doesn't always fit with God's. However, the flip side of that is that His is always bigger and better. Trust.
You asked how much we've grown. The answer is simple: more than you could imagine. Last year we did YFC's gap year program and a year of Youth Work Placement, and we grew so much that 17 year old us is barely recognisable to 18 year old us. We learnt so much from the people around us and from stepping out into new opportunities. The only advice I'd give you, the only thing I'd change about that year, is that you write more down. Write a short summary of every youth group you lead, every youth trip you go on, every chat/meeting you have with your line manager.
I have one more thing to tell you before I go, and it's a big'n....
Stop putting yourself on a tightrope of trying to please everyone. When you fall from that high, it's only going to hurt you. So, hop down from up there and work towards a better you for you. There are so many people around you right now that care about you, that will give up their lunch break to sit and chat with you, that will pray with you after youth group again and again and again. They do that because they care about the current you, not the perfect and without fault you. And I know you just want to hear them say, "I'm proud of you", but don't pressure yourself to always have a smile on your face just to hear those words. You don't have to hear it to know it.
Let's catch up again in a few years,
(p.s. yeah, we like the name Rebecca again.)